miami beach birthday cake

Miami Beach Birthday Cake  (adapted from
I’ve made this cake once before two years ago. When Andy requested a chocolate cake with caramel sauce for his birthday, I thought at once of this cake. It’s not richly  gooey chocolate-y, which Andy dislikes. In addition, it has a crunchy topping that he would appreciate; chunks of chocolate mixed with slivered almonds and graham cracker crumbs. And through it all, the quiet tang of crème fraîche.


1 cup (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided (I used bittersweet chocolate)
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
2-4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons for pans
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar in 1 cup measure topped up with milk)
1 jar butterscotch caramel

Crème Fraîche Frosting
11/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 375˚F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and mix it with 2 tablespoons flour. Grease bottom and sides of one 9- inch spring form pan with this butter-flour mixture. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper and grease again.

Cake Baker’s Note: I used two 8 inch spring form pans.

Melt 1/3 cup morsels in a bowl over hot boiling water and set aside for the cake. To make the topping, combine graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Add enough melted butter to make the graham crackers come together. Add nuts and 2/3 cup morsels; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add half the buttermilk or sour milk. Scrape down the sides. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the remaining buttermilk/sour milk and vanilla. Add 1/3 flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Scrape down the sides. Add half the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add half the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the egg mixture and all the melted chocolate. Beat until just combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just moistened. There should be light streaks of flour in the batter. Scrape down the sides.

 Cake Baker’s Note: To make a chocolate swirl cake, add the melted morsels after the batter has been poured into the pans. Use a thin metal blade or a skewer to make swirls. Be careful not to tear the parchment/waxed paper liners.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with crumb mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan then unmold and cool completely on wire racks.

To make crème fraîche, put heavy cream, sour cream, and sugar in a medium bowl. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes. Whip until soft peaks form.

The cake must be completely cooled to frost. Slice the cake horizontally in half. Spread butterscotch caramel on the top of the cut side of the bottom layer. Place the layer with the chocolate-nut mixture on top of the butterscotch topside up. Frost sides with creme fraiche. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a serrated knife.


  • For the bottom layer, spread crème fraîche instead of butterscotch. Then frost the sides with crème fraîche.

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